Saturday, February 22, 2020


Then and Now

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), Buch der Lieder, XXXIX (tr. Sander L. Gilman):
My heart is sad and filled with longing
I think of the past;
the world was then so comfortable
and everyone lived so peacefully.

And everything is now as if displaced.
Such crowding! such need.
Lord God is dead above,
And below the devil is dead.

And everything looks so peevishly sad,
so confusing, so rotten, so cold,
And if it were not for the bit of love,
there would not be a foothold anywhere.

Das Herz ist mir bedrückt, und sehnlich
Gedenke ich der alten Zeit;
Die Welt war damals noch so wöhnlich,
Und ruhig lebten hin die Leut'.

Doch jetzt ist alles wie verschoben,
Das ist ein Drängen! eine Not!
Gestorben ist der Herrgott oben,
Und unten ist der Teufel tot.

Und Alles schaut so grämlich trübe,
So krausverwirrt und morsch und kalt,
Und wäre nicht das bischen Liebe,
So gäb' es nirgends einen Halt.
The same, tr. Anthony Phelan:
My heart is heavy — sad the present;
I think back to the olden days
When all the world was still so pleasant
And people went their peaceful ways.

Now, helter-skelter, elbows shove us,
Pressure and stress on every side!
Dead is the good Lord God above us,
And down below the devil's died.

Everything goes in churlish fashion,
A rotten, tangled, cold affair;
And but for a little love and passion
There'd be no surcease anywhere.

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